(......... wait for it ........)
Yep, that's right, it's ALL true...
Everything is BIGGER..
And, just bit more UNTAMED than the rest of the country:
Whatever you're looking for, you'll probably find it in Texas. And that's why most Texans will proudly tell you their state is the:
And we loved it. The diversity of the state is remarkable. From the coniferous forests of the eastern Piney Woods, to the sparkling Gulf Coast, to the expansive mid-western prairies, to the rolling landscapes and spring-fed rivers of the Hill Country --other than skiing-- Texas has everything an outdoor enthusiast could want. It can't just be visited, it must be experienced. And we did just that from November 2018 - February, 2019. Below is the route we traversed during our three and a half month visit.
Our first campground in the state was Treetops RV Park. in Arlington, Texas.
It was a great park that we rated 4 out of 5 stars. The park was clean the staff was friendly, easy to navigate, and centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth.
We spent six days touring the Dallas and Fort Worth area.
DALLAS (or as locals call it The Big D):
If you're driving anywhere near Dallas you can expect two things TRAFFIC and ROAD CONSTRUCTION. I've never seen anything like it anywhere in the country. They are building clover leafs on top of clover leafs! The population must be booming because there is a tremendous amount of growth going on everywhere.
While the city itself does not a lot offer a lot in the way of must-see touristy things, our first stop was the famed DEALEY PLAZA. The sight of the assassination of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy. Although I was too young at the time to remember the event, no one can argue that it strongly impacted the future of the country.
Visiting here is a very solemn occasion. Even though the "shot heard around the world" occurred almost 60 years ago, it is fresh in the minds of visitors. I see people look in disbelief up to the sixth floor window, then their gaze falls to the "X" in the road. I'm sure the grainy, black and white Zapruder film is replaying in their minds. While nothing is said, young and old alike share a moment of profound sadness. Kennedy's death was a loss for each of us individually and corporately. So, so very sad.
Below are some of the pictures we took while there, including the "Grassy Knoll", where some witnesses said the third shot came from.
There is an excellent museum on the sixth floor documenting the event. There are many fascinating and educational displays including a scale replica (pictured below) of Dealey Plaza at the time of the shooting.
While the visit here stirred up many unpleasant memories, I would highly recommend it to anyone passing through the city.
As a life long Dallas Cowboys hater, I'm not sure why this made my list but it was close by so we paid a visit.
I have heard the words "Dallas-Fort Worth" so often that I expected Fort Worth to be a carbon copy of Dallas. But one is not like the other. FW is more of a quirky suburb. To visit is to step back in time to when "cattle was king"!
It was founded as a lowly army outpost in 1849 overlooking the Trinity River. With the development of the famed Chisholm Cattle Trail, an 800 mile trail along which cowboys drove their livestock to the closest rail link in Kansas City, the city began to boom and quickly became a brawling, bustling town.
It became a place where cowboys and cattlemen came to "be separated from their money".
It was "where the West began". And to visit is to step back in time.
We watched a cattle drive through the center of downtown! There are a lot of rustic steak-serving restaurants and pubs in the downtown area. If you're looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon add Fort Worth to your itinerary.
PASTOR TONY EVANS:
Many of you probably have never heard of this renowned author and pastor, but he is the first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He also holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary by an African American. His ministry has flourished and now he can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets. He preaches a gospel of love, grace, reconciliation and action.
I first heard of Pastor Evans when he preached at an event I was attending about thirty years ago. He preached a sermon that imprinted itself on my mind like none I have ever heard. Maybe it was in the forcefulness of his words, or the simplicity of the imagery, but I find myself reflecting upon it even today.
If memory serves me correctly the sermon was titled "Okra and Ice Cream". He colorfully told how as a child his mother would make okra and he hated okra. But his mother knew the benefits of vegetables, so she would also place before him the promise of ice cream if he finished all his okra. Such a dilemma.. He hated okra, but he loved ice cream. As his sermon unfolded, he explained that sometimes God gives us okra (trials) which we must endure until we've cleaned our plate. Only then will we receive the reward that God has in store for us. I'm sure I'm not doing the sermon justice, but afterwards, whenever I faced an ordeal I would always envision it as a plate full of steaming okra (which I also hate)!
I had hoped to someday be able to experience one of his church services but didn't think the opportunity would ever materialize.
Well, thirty years later, this silent prayer became a reality. As God would work things out, our "randomly-chosen" RV campground was only about 30 minutes from his church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship! Although my wife and I were clearly in the minority, in this primarily African-American mega-church, we were made to feel like family. And it was such a blessing to hear him preach (especially because the Sunday we attended was the last sermon he was to preach before going on an extended sabbatical to Israel).
If you're ever in the Dallas area, I would high recommend a visit here. It is probably like no other church you've attended.
Our visit wouldn't be complete without a stop to a local cemetery! This one was close to our RV park and looked old, so we paid it an afternoon visit.
As most of you know, Lorraine and I love visiting cemeteries. It is probably the only place on earth where time seems to stand still. In the face of the "Great Equalizer", people who died hundreds of years ago lie alongside freshly dug graves. Presidents lie next to paupers. The famous next to the infamous. It is also a good reminder that once we crossover and come face to face with the Creator, there are no take backs, no ability to apologize, no do-overs. All our cards are laid on the table. It can be a sobering experience and helps us keep a proper perspective on life.
While we didn't find any graves of famous people**, we did find a few inscriptions that left us scratching our heads. I hope the final words left on my tombstone do not read: "A Decent Person" or "He Wrote Blogs"!
**I couldn't find any information online about R. P. Heath (41 yrs old) but I did discover that G. Eugene Moose was a Broadway actor. Born in Arlington, he died on January 7, 1994 in New York City. Sadly, his family/friends never updated his marker.
This wraps up our time in Dallas-Fort Worth. From here we traveled down to the quiet city of Waco where amongst other things, we visited Magnolia Market, the store and bakery owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, and the site of the Waco siege. But more on that in my next blog post.